“Leave this world a better place than you found it.” We’ve all heard this old adage before, and it’s more important now than ever, especially in the backcountry, where the ‘Leave No Trace’ ethos needs to be practiced by anyone who ventures into the wilderness. But what about leaving your soul in a better place? If you’re searching for a bit more soul in your life, you’re likely to find it inside and amongst any one of the BLBCA’s backcountry lodges.
A lodge differs from a hut, which is normally used by hikers and ski-tourers who cook their own meals and sleep on a camping mattress. When you stay at a backcountry lodge, you can sleep easier knowing that everyone involved is a steward of the land, and uses the backcountry in a responsible manner with as little impact as possible. The intangible feeling of being totally and completely immersed in a natural, uncrowded environment is like medicine for the soul.
“Spending time in nature is a magical thing,” says Jason Dixon, a Kamloops, BC resident and longtime backcountry lodge guest. “Too often I feel we lose touch of our place in nature, and spending time away from day-to-day life helps us reconnect to what is most important: our health and our happiness. Without those two things, nothing else really matters. I always feel recharged after a trip and I am typically anxious to get planning for the next one!”
Planning? The beauty of booking a Backcountry Lodges of BC (BLBCA) lodge is that you don’t really have to plan—you pick the destination and leave the rest up to them—including really damn fine food if you choose to go fully-catered. That’s right—no cooking on a camp stove. Instead, hike a bit longer, take more pictures, relax and unwind. You won’t find a package of dehydrated food within 100 miles of any lodge.
“You get the benefit of amazing accommodation, food, and you can leave the logistics to others,” says Dixon, who’s been visiting backcountry lodges for more than 15 years. “I work more than I would like and have family commitments, so finding the time to plan, coordinate and execute trips isn’t always easy.”
What makes a lodge a ‘backcountry’ lodge? Well, simply put, it’s a lodge that you can’t access by a regular road, which takes ‘unplugged’ to a whole new level.
“Being able to unplug, and just be fully present with loved ones is invaluable in this fast-paced time,” says Kelowna resident Fiona MacLeod. “Bonds are strengthened by many shared laughs and stories, but also through those comfortable silences on long uptracks, where we find strength and contentment by sharing a small space in the expansive landscape surrounding us.”
Expansive, untrammeled landscapes are one absolute guarantee that comes with any stay at a backcountry lodge, and that includes a complete escape from any crowds. Some lodges are so remote, the only sounds you’ll hear are chirping birds and water pouring over rocks. You’re also guaranteed to meet like-minded souls who crave adventure and care about the environment.
BLBCA lodges are found in BC’s four major mountain ranges: the Rockies, Columbia Mountains, Cariboo Chilcotins, and Coast Range. Spend your summer days hiking, climbing, paddling, practicing yoga, mountain biking, taking photos and painting in stunningly beautiful landscapes, or taking a climbing or orienteering course. With both fully-guided and self-guided options available, simply choose your adventure and go with the flow. You can be as brave or laid-back as you want, without the drawbacks of tent camping or backpacking, and with all the creature comforts including cozy log cabins, warm beds, showers, hearty meals and experienced guides and crew.
“It would be great to be able to bottle the deep-seated feelings of happiness and contentment and share them with others that have never been exposed to or had the opportunity to connect with nature,” says Dixon. “Maybe as a society that would help us focus on the importance of protecting the natural world more, and less on the illusions of instant gratification.”
Instant gratification aside, the real focus is connection. To nature, to the elements, and most importantly, to your soul—you’re guaranteed to leave it in a better place than before you came.
What is the BLBCA?
A member-directed association of privately-owned lodges located in the major mountain ranges of British Columbia, Canada. Due to remoteness, lodge access is mechanized in the winter (mostly by helicopter). In the summer, some lodges are accessible by hiking. Once at the lodge, all activities are non-mechanized, falling in line with a commitment to leave as small a footprint as possible.
The BLBCA supports member lodges in the areas of safety, marketing, and operations as it strives to position the backcountry of British Columbia as one of the most rewarding adventure travel destinations in the world.